Whenever I look at Vera, I wish I were… well, maybe not just taller—though that would be like cool beyond belief—but bigger. Stone Cold Steve Austin bigger. Big enough to stomp Todd Millsap’s head into the ground, splatter his brains against the sidewalk like the grapes Jimmy Anderson and I squashed last week.
They were Mrs. Anderson’s grapes, the ones she planted last year and worked like a honey bee trying to get what she called a bumper crop, though that didn’t make much sense to me, being that she only had one grapevine. Still, she told Jimmy and me to leave ‘em alone, don’t touch ‘em, else God would strike us dead where we stood, leave nothin’ but our smoldering shoes and ashes behind so’s folks’d know what’d happened to us. Jimmy shot me a look like he thought that was a load.
“C’mon,” he said, and together we marched out to the backyard to the corner fence where his mom had planted her Hallelujah Garden.
Of course, I let him go first, being his house and backyard and all—at least that’s what I said—and when nothing came down at us, no lightning bolt or flash of fire, we stuffed a couple clusters each into our pants pockets and tore out of there as fast as we could. Just in case God was busy leveling the hammer down on some other fool who’d done what he shouldn’t have, we didn’t want to be around when the Almighty finally figured out them grapes was missing.
That was last week, and I still have the image in my head, the stains left behind on the concrete where we smashed them with the soles of our shoes. The stuff was nasty looking, like a pigeon had a serious case of the scours or something. And of course, that’s what I want Todd’s brains to look like, too, one big giant mess of juicy goo running down into the gutter.
If it wasn’t for Vera paying so much attention to him, he might be okay—heck, we might even be friends, though that’s a tough one to imagine, let alone swallow. But here’s the rub: she pays way too much attention to him, doting over how smart he is, what a fine young man he’s going to be. And here’s the rub of the rub: he brings it on, knowing full well what he’s doing. One day, he even looked at me and winked. Almost like he was telling me to forget it; Vera was his. Stupid dingleberry.
It’s him who doesn’t have a clue. You see, before I bash out his brains, I’m gonna stab both of my Berol number twos into his eye sockets, make him look like some alien life force come down from the planet Drakkamundo, way out there somewhere in the next solar system. Then, after I’ve hammered the pencils home, I’m gonna take my last pack of M-80s, stuff ‘em all up his you-know-what and light the fuse. Jimmy and me, we did something like that to an anthill last week. Seeing all them dead bodies scattered at least four or five feet away from the mound, we both hit the ground grabbing at our bellies. And just think what kind of kick Jimmy will get out of Todd running around, slapping at his rear—only he’ll be slapping at nothing ‘cause the M-80s will blow it all off. Man, Jimmy’ll pee his pants, he’ll be laughing so hard.
And then, while Todd’s running around, screaming his head off, I’ll be ever-so-helpful and give him a pail of turpentine to—
I turn and look into the most beautiful eyes God ever made.
She smiles. “It’s Mrs. Whithers to you, Johnny.”
“Okay… Mrs. Whithers.”
“That’s better. Have you finished your quiz?”
Looking down, I grit my teeth. “I haven’t started yet.”
She glances at her watch. “Well, you only have a few minutes left, so hurry up, okay?”
Across the room, Todd raises his hand. “I’m done.”
Vera looks at him and smiles. “See how quickly Todd did his quiz, boys and girls? Let’s see who can get theirs done next.”
Todd looks at me, gives me the finger, and smiles.
I grab my Berol number two and smile back. The stupid dingleberry.